Official lays out renters’ rights for Rhode Island landlords

Refusing to rent apartments to students, or anyone 18 or older on the basis of age, and failing to allow reasonable changes to accommodate people with disabilities, are common ways landlords can run afoul of federal and state fair housing laws.  Read more by clicking here.

Generally, any rules set by landlords have to be applied equally to all groups, and rules that have a “disparate impact” on a protected group may be suspect, she said. For instance, when renting to college students, landlords cannot demand that only one person is allowed per bedroom, if that same rule would not be imposed on older adults.

Landlords may ask for medical documentation, but are not allowed to ask about the tenant’s diagnosis, which is personal, privileged information, Lovegrove added. (Similarly, tenants with a license for medical marijuana may be asked for proof of license, but landlords are not supposed to ask about the tenant’s medical condition.)

Tenants also should not be charged more rent for having assistance or emotional support animals, Lovegrove said. However, if the animals cause any damage, repair costs may be deducted from security deposits, just like the costs for any other damage, other than usual wear and tear, she said.

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